Aloha Kona - Hyundai debuts new small SUV

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Words: Peter Louisson
12 Jun 2017

With armour and attitude like those of Marvel superhero Iron Man, Hyundai’s new entrant in the burgeoning small SUV area, Kona, promises to be a steely competitor.

Sales of SUVs continue at unprecedented levels worldwide, and that’s also true for small SUVs. A few years ago, the category wasn’t even a thing and yet now they account for over 10 per cent of the new vehicle marketplace in New Zealand.

Hyundai hasn’t had a small SUV available since ix35 ended production in 2015. All that is about to change with the arrival of Kona, named after a range of gnarly mountain bikes. That’s not strictly correct; Hyundai’s adventure vehicles are named after tourist locations, hence the Kona badge, a reference to a district on the big island of Hawaii. It’s also where a renowned Ironman triathlon is held annually.

Kona the vehicle might well consider itself adventurous, with a bold exterior design. The VP of Hyundai, Euisun Chung, described it as a “stylish and highly functional compact SUV, perfectly suited to the needs of customers who pursue challenging, action-filled lifestyles”. He added that Kona features “cutting-edge connectivity and class-leading safety features”.

Blackened armour and slit-like LED headlamps impart a futuristic high tech appearance to Kona. A low wide stance and short overhangs suggest dynamic ability. The grille design is novel, described as ‘cascading’, and represents the new face of Hyundai. Composite lights that include DRLs and turn signals are part of a stack that’s located below the LED headlamps. A similar design concept applies for the taillight configuration.

Kona is 4165mm in length and 1800mm wide, with overall height of 1550mm. It rides on a new platform designed to fulfill not only safety and space remits, but also 2wd and 4wd options.

The cabin is described as sleek and simple, with a feeling of openness, as exemplified by the floating monitor design. Hyundai claims best-in-class interior space.

Under the skin, the body frame comprises almost 52 per cent advanced high strength steels, imbuing Kona with “class-leading passive safety levels”. Helping is a multi-load path structure, designed to disperse crash energy effectively. Contributing to weight savings, 115m of structural adhesives are used for added rigidity.

It’s likely that two engines will be available for Kona when it arrives in New Zealand, probably in Q4 of this year. The first is a 2.0L fuel-injected Atkinson cycle petrol engine, outputting 110kW, and with peak torque of 179Nm arriving at 4500rpm. It will be mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and drive the front wheels. A 0-100km/h time of 10sec is quoted.

The other engine is a direct-injection 1.6L turbopetrol offering 137kW, and 265Nm from 1500-4500rpm. Hooked up to a seven-speed twin-clutch transmission and driving all four wheels, it is said to hit 100km/h in just 7.7sec. All variants will have three drive modes, Sport, Normal and Eco.

The 4wd models adopt multilink rear suspension for driving refinement on a variety of surfaces, whereas the front driver uses a torsion beam rear axle. Both run a Mac strut set-up in the front.

On safety, expect autonomous braking, lane keeping and high beam assist, driver attention and blind spot warning systems, and rear cross traffic alert. Upper level variants will come with a head-up display projecting speed, navigation instructions, and lane departure events.

An option across the range is smartphone wireless charging for Android phones. For more details on Kona check out the lead FYI in the July issue of NZ Autocar.

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